A new bill in collaboration with Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will improve drug treatment centers

A new bill in collaboration with Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is helping to keep drug treatment facilities in check. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, introduced AB 1158 on Thursday, February 18, 2021. This bill will ensure that licensed drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities and recovery residences that contract with the government maintain minimum insurance coverage levels and higher standards to protect patients from abuse or injury.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented rise in substance abuse has prompted many Californians to search for recovery services. But well-documented abuses of vulnerable patients, including death and serious injury, show the need for additional consumer protections.

“Can you imagine what it’s like to begin a drug or alcohol recovery program and then be faced with substandard and abusive care? It’s no wonder suicide rates have tragically increased,” said AB 1158 Author Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “It is critical that patients at treatment facilities receive the care they need without worrying about their safety. By guaranteeing minimum insurance coverage levels, patients will be much better protected.”

“Californians seeking help for alcohol and substance use urgently need additional consumer protections now more than ever during this pandemic,” said Commissioner Lara, who leads enforcement personnel at the Department of Insurance charged with investigating fraud and abuse. “Requiring minimum insurance standards and reporting of injuries and deaths means my Department’s investigators can swiftly act to protect public health and safety.”

AB 1158 will require a recovery residence, including a sober living home, that contracts with a government entity or an alcohol or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility that is licensed by the government to maintain minimum insurance coverage levels, including liability and workers’ compensation to protect patients and workers on site.

Additionally, this proposal would increase the ability for an insurance company to protect the well-being of people in recovery by ensuring a residence or facility’s compliance with health and safety standards, including reporting any incidents of death or injuries requiring hospitalization, back to the insurance company and respective government entity.

“We cannot allow grifters who masquerade as substance abuse recovery providers to abuse their caregiver status just to turn a profit,” said Casey Johnson, Board of Directors Member, Consumer Attorneys of California.